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Goodbye, Fila

The Chunky Sneaker. The Dad Tennis Shoe. The Fila. Since the emergence of the big sneaker trend about two years ago, there has been a considerable amount of debate surrounding this reemerging look. 

Is it kind of … cool? 

Or, does it need to die? 

There seems to be no middle ground. Some people get excited to strap on their overlarge, overweight kicks. Others would rather save themselves the pain of looking back on photos, cringing at their dinosaur feet.

Miami University, like many other college campuses, has a particular brand of chunky. A rare few students sport the bulky, high end Balenciaga and Prada kicks (which top out at over a grand a pop), but the majority stick to the blinding white Fila or the knock off designer-looking soles that Zara crafts to near-perfection.

But not everyone is excited about this latest campus “kick.” 

“I just don’t really understand why something that was sold at Walmart and worn by your father to cut the lawn is something that girls are wearing,” senior Kevin Hansbauer said. 

“And guys, too,” he added with a grimace.

To Hansbauer’s dismay, students (and the general public) are buying these sneakers in bulk. Just look around classes or in the bars Uptown: these sneakers — along with the newly platformed Doc Martens combat boots — run (pun intended) Oxford’s shoe gamut.

But, as Hansbauer explains,  it’s more than just the aesthetic that bothers him about this clunky trend.

“Fila and Champion, these brands were perceived as cheap, Walmart brands, and now they are being marked up way more than they should be when it’s literally the same product,” he said. “But, now that it’s trendy, [the sneakers] can be sold for a lot more.” 

And it’s true. 

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After making their first appearance in the ‘90s, Fila slowly lost its relevance in the fashion world as the trend died out, along with the company’s revenue. Then, Fila (a company with an Italian heritage, but based in Baltimore) was sold to a Korean firm where it reinvented and rebranded itself. 

Cut to a few years ago: the new Fila sought to revamp its image as a retro ‘90s dad sneaker after it was taken from its dusty shoebox in the back of the closet and thrust back into public view. 

Suddenly, Fila is connecting with a younger audience through collaborations with stores like Urban Outfitters. If that isn’t evidence of how quickly Fila has catapulted itself in recent years, the brand just completed its Spring/Summer 2020 collection, a fashion show with a runway and all, at Milan Fashion Week last month. 

“Yeah, they’re white, so they’re versatile, but I just don’t feel like that style goes with anything else except for really, really urban streetwear,” Hansbauer said. “They don’t go with the dresses and skirts that girls are wearing them with.”

 But senior Whitney Reddan disagrees entirely.

 “I really liked the trend because it covered three bases for me,” she explained. “One, I like a good white sneaker; two, it’s super comfortable and three, it’s a platform.”  

Maybe the chunky sneakers and companies like Fila — brands that were never meant to make a comeback — are a rebellion against fashion norms, and the level to which a brand can rebrand itself while taking over global street style trends with kooky footwear like the big sneaker.

But even though Reddan enjoys the trend, she agrees  it may have hit its peak. 

“I think initially they were fun and cool,” she said. “[But] now that most people have them, the trend has died out for me.” 

She paused before adding, “I do love all the jokes about them.”

And however admirable this bounce back may be, the chunky sneaker is still a trend — and in the way that trends so quickly come and go in our era of fast fashion — it needs to make a final lap before it calls it quits. 

Enough is enough, I say.

IG: @abspadgett